In 1994, Paul Auster gave Sophie Calle a six page guide entitled: The Gotham Handbook – Personal Instructions for S.C. On How to Improve Life in New York City (Because she asked ….) Calle followed these instructions every day for a week. She documented what she did and what happened and made an exhibit of it.
In 2013, I was in Hamburg, Germany and saw an exhibit of this project at the Hamburger Kunsthalle. Auster’s Handbook is a beautiful and very humane piece of writing with four short suggestions:
- Talking to Strangers
- Beggars and Homeless People
- Cultivating a Spot
The part on Talking to Strangers has weighed on my mind for months now, to the point where I considered returning to Hamburg to see the piece again and copy down the exact text of the Handbook. Fortunately, Sophie Calle published this project in a book called Sophie Calle: Double Game. The Handbook is the closing section of the book.